Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Aloha to ML Buchman and TAKE OVER AT MIDNIGHT

M.L. Buchman takes over my blog today with his favorite scene from his new release, TAKE OVER AT MIDNIGHT ...

That’s tough. There are so many moments that I like in this book: battle, joy, love, fear. Each has a place, each has heart. But one of my favorites, one that I thought was important enough that I kept throwing it out until I thought I did it at least some justice, is my attempt to tell the origin story of the Night Stalkers. The entire 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was born out of a single, horrid public failure. I love this scene because it is a shared moment, a shared understanding among people who have chosen to be warriors. A bond I can only glimpse from the outside and attempt to share.

Tim had planted himself close to Lola’s right, both hands jammed into pockets. Lola looked down toward the empty plain below. It was midnight on a moonless night and they stood in the middle of the Iranian desert, where no American had stood in over thirty years. Only starlight shone off the vast salt pan.

Like every Night Stalker who had ever served, she knew the story. In 1980, the new Iran under their new Ayatollah took fifty-three Americans hostage. Operation Eagle Claw was an elaborate and poorly coordinated rescue effort of immense bravery that flew eight Sea Stallion helicopters and six C-130 tanker and cargo planes below radar and into history. A mash-up team of Navy, Air Force, Rangers, and Deltas made the effort.

Choppers failed. A busload of natives showed up at the remote landing strip by pure chance just as the aircraft landed at midnight. And then, on takeoff, a chopper lost in its own brownout of dust rammed a refueling plane. The inferno cost eight lives, seven helicopters, and one of the refueling planes. It also created an international political disaster of epic proportions that had cost President Carter any chance of reelection.

SOAR had been founded months later by a couple of fliers determined to never let such a travesty happen again. And it hadn’t. The 160th, one of the smallest and most specialized regiments in the U.S. Army, had become feared the world over by those few adversaries unlucky enough to know about them and still be living.

“Dad said it was like waking up in hell.” Major Henderson’s voice was rough, though not loud.

Lola glanced over at him, as did the others, including his wife.

There was the answer. With all of the desert in Iran to hide out in, why here. They’d want to be far away from the Deltas they’d inserted earlier, so that they didn’t attract undue attention there. The planners must have also wanted somewhere well known, and Desert One was among the most carefully mapped sections of Iran in SOAR history.

And Henderson’s father had been here.

“Dad was Special Forces for the Navy. Not a SEAL yet, that came later. He came as a shooter. After too many helicopters broke down in the sandstorm and they declared a no-go on the mission, he said they climbed aboard the C-130, dumped their gear, and just lay down on the fuel bladder. Settling in to sleep the whole way home.”

Lola could see the layout. Each fuel plane with a couple of choppers pulled close for fueling. A bus of hostages parked nearby under guard. Deep, deep darkness of a moonless night.

“He woke up in the center of an inferno. Someone grabbed his collar and practically threw him from the fire. He said that the pillar of fire that lit the night would call anyone within a hundred miles to come see.

“They abandoned the plane. They abandoned the six choppers without waiting to destroy them. The Iranians got four of them running that we know of. They abandoned the bodies of eight of their comrades. They fled for their lives in utter defeat, fled from themselves without Iran having to raise a single finger.”

Henderson turned to face them. As if somehow he could see them each clearly despite the darkness.

Lola could feel when his gaze was upon her. A probing assessment of whether or not she deserved to be a part of such a legacy. Of whether she had the tenacity and drive to repay the past with committed action in the future.

This was hallowed ground, the birthplace of SOAR.

“Michael Grimm.” Lola spoke to fight the dark, making her voice clear and strong. “Bob Johnson.”

“Randy Cochran.” Tim picked up the note. He took her hand in the dark and squeezed it tightly. The surge of it shot through her. Knowing she was a part of something bigger, more important. Along with that surge came a heat upon her cheeks that she was glad the night hid.

Others continued, listing the founders of SOAR. A catalog of those who’d looked at defeat not as failure, but rather as the need for a stronger, more capable future.

Lola was glad for the privacy of darkness because something else was opening up inside her. Not just her pride in flying alongside these people. No just knowing that she maybe, just maybe was good enough to belong here. There was something inside her every time her orbit swung her too close to Tim Maloney. Something she didn’t know, nor want to know.

Whatever she felt when he was around, down in that deep core somewhere unidentifiably near her heart, was scaring the shit out of her.

But she didn’t release Tim’s hand as the litany of names continued, the living and the dead. Didn’t want to. Wouldn’t simply because there lurked something that rooted her to the desert with fear.

She was SOAR and would face her fears.

They were SOAR. The 160th. The Night Stalkers.

They’d flown through three of the most dangerous countries on the planet in the last thirty-six hours, and in the next few days they’d be flying back out. And if they didn’t make it and the mission was needed, someone else would try again until they succeeded. That was their legacy.

“NSDQ.” Lola closed the circle of names with their motto.

Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.

Others answered in the dark, “NSDQ.”

Lola knew she would never quit again. Not quit on herself. Not on others.

But she couldn’t quite bring herself to look over at the shadow of the man who still held her hand.

The crew of Super 64 one month before the Battle of Mogadishu.
Public Domain (link)


Name: Lola LaRue

Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 3

Mission: Copilot deadly choppers on the world's most dangerous missions

Name: Tim Maloney

Rank: Sergeant

Mission: Man the guns and charm the ladies

The Past Doesn't Matter, When Their Future is Doomed…

Nothing sticks to "Crazy" Tim Maloney, until he falls hard for a tall Creole beauty with a haunted past and a penchant for reckless flying. Lola LaRue never thought she'd be susceptible to a man's desire, but even with Tim igniting her deepest passions, it may be too late now...With the nation under an imminent threat of biological warfare, Tim and Lola are the only ones who can stop the madness--and to do that, they're going to have to trust each other way beyond their limits...


M. L. Buchman has worked in fast food, law, opera, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It’s amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. His Night Stalker Series have garnered starred reviews, top picks and have even been named an NPR Best Romance of 2012 (I Own the Dawn). He lives in Lincoln City, OR, with a loving lady and the coolest kid on the planet. For more information, please visit www.mlbuchman.com.


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Sourcebooks is giving away a print copy of TAKE OVER AT MIDNIGHT to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Have you flown in a helicopter?

2.  Sourcebooks' giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 8.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


  1. Only once, a long time ago at a fair - we didn't go far or stay up very long. It would be wonderful to be able to get birds eye view of places - if I ever get back to Hawaii, a helicopter flight over the volcano is top on my list.

  2. No, but I would like to some day!

  3. I've never flown in a helicopter.

  4. No, I've never flown in a helicopter before, bur sure would like to. It's on my 'bucket list', along with zip-lining in a cavern! Have always wanted to read this series.

  5. I have flown in a helicopter one time. It was a tourist helicopter on the island of Kauai. It was an awesome experience. The doors were off so you could take photos without any glare.

  6. No, no helicopter for me.

    Please do not enter me in this drawing....I have this book.

  7. This may sound odd, as an author of a series about helicopters, but I never have! I have my private pilot's license and always dreamed of flying the big passenger jets, but couldn't do it due to being partially color-blind. I did get to sit in a Coast Guard chopper pilot seat for about 10 minutes once and interviewed a great lady who flew a double tour as crew chief in Iraq on a Black Hawk, but that's the closest I've come. All the rest is research and dreaming. :)

  8. No But I would love too! Thanks for sharing!